Former Miss Korea Wins Award for Promoting Buddhism

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2017-10-12 |

Former Miss Korea beauty pageant winner Keum Na-na was recently awarded this year’s Buddhist prize from the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism for her commitment to enhancing the public awareness of Buddhism. 

Keum received the award, alongside three other recipients, for promoting and sharing the Buddhist teachings in numerous media interviews, talks, and books, including her bestseller Na-na’s Neverending Story. The Jogye Order also awarded the prize to poet Jeong Sang-seok, badminton player Lee Yong-dae, and lawyer Ahn Dong-il.

Keum Na-na. From english.chosun.comKeum Na-na. From

Keum, who shot to fame in her home country when she won the Miss Korea title in 2002, has also garnered national renown for her academic achievements, which have made her a role model among the country’s youth.

Following her beauty pageant success, Keum dropped out of Kyungpook National University’s school of medicine to pursue her undergraduate studies overseas after being accepted by Harvard University in the United States, where she majored in biochemistry, graduating in 2008. After subsequently earning a master’s degree in nutritional science at Columbia University, Keum went on to graduate from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health with a dual-doctorate in nutrition and epidemiology in 2015.

Keum has published a number of peer-reviewed research papers and is also the author of three Korean-language books: Na-na’s Neverending Story, Everyone Can Do It, and Study Diary of Na-na. She recently accepted a professorship at Dongguk University in Seoul, founded by the Jogye Order.

Among Keum’s fellow award winners this year, Jeong Sang-seok is one of most highly regarded Buddhist poets in South Korea. Having overcome physical obstacles caused by cerebral palsy, Jeong was lauded for offering hope, inspiration, and encouragement to society through his Buddhism-inspired poems. 

Lee Yong-dae became one of the world’s top badminton players in the men’s and mixed doubles, winning a gold medal in the mixed doubles event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As a professional athlete, he was ranked world No.1 in men’s doubles for 104 consecutive weeks. The 28-year-old received the award for helping the Jogye Order raise awareness of Buddhism through his active participation in numerous Buddhist events.

The Jogye Order also acknowledged the contribution of Ahn Dong-il, who has served as the organization’s legal adviser since 1994.

Monastics of the Jogye Order. From koreanbuddhism.netMonastics of the Jogye Order. From

The Jogye Order is a school of Seon (Zen) Buddhism and South Korea’s largest Buddhist tradition, which traces its roots back 1,200 years to the Unified Silla (also known as the Later Silla) kingdom (668–935). The Jogye school as a distinct entity emerged in the late 11th century when the monk Bojo Jinul, credited as the school’s founder, sought to combine the practices of Seon Buddhism with the theological underpinnings of sutra-based Buddhist schools, including Korean Pure Land Buddhism.

See more

Ex-Miss Korea wins Buddhist prize (The Korea Times)
Miss Korea 2002 Trades Tiara for Academic Gown (The Chosun Ilbo)

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